Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 3 March 2011

First, let me say that I am sure the whole House will want to wish Graham a happy retirement and many more hours on the golf course.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you confirm that even if a matter on which there is to be a statement is market-sensitive, the Government could, on the previous day, reserve time for the statement after questions without revealing the nature of the statement? It would have been perfectly possible for us to have had a statement now, during what might be referred to as prime time, rather than later today. The Government could also have tabled a motion to allow the Opposition day to go beyond 3 o’clock.

The hon. Gentleman raises what, in the circumstances, is a hypothetical question. However, I can say that, yes, that would have been possible, but in the circumstances we have encountered it was not. I hope that he and the House will understand that there is a balance of considerations in these matters. In the situation we faced this morning, it was felt to be important, including by me, to protect the time for the half-day Opposition day debate in the name of the Democratic Unionist party. It is also important that the House should hear the statement from the Secretary of State, and have the opportunity to question him on it, at the earliest practicable opportunity without doing violence to that minority party entitlement. I do not say that the situation is ideal, but what I do say is that a pragmatic approach has been taken in the circumstances the Leader of the House and I encountered.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. With reference to the question from the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) about the order of business on the Backbench Business Committee day on Thursday 10 March, it might help the House to learn that, in deciding which debate should go first and which should follow, the Committee takes into account the question of whether motions can be voted on, as votes would eat into the following debate time. That might have been one of the major points that the Committee took into account.

I do not think the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) is in the Chamber at present, but I have a sense that before very long she is likely to hear of the pearl of wisdom the hon. Gentleman offers to the Chamber, for which we are grateful to him.